Back in the late summer it was my privilege to spend a couple days with many of the young clergy of the Iowa Conference. We worshiped and prayed…we ate and laughed….and we puzzled through some important issues of pastoral identity, namely….what is the job of a pastor?….and who gets to make that determination?
There’s no simple answer to the question. The pious (and undoubtedly true) answer is that God decides! But God rarely sends a text message saying, “Do THAT!” or “Stop it! Do this instead!!” Like so many matters, the pastoral role is a matter of discernment. It’s a matter to be wrestled out in weighty conversation with parishioners and colleagues and mentors and family and friends.
I’m pretty sure that one part of the pastoral role – at least for most of us – is the significantly counter-cultural discipline of periodically removing ourselves sufficiently far from the routine and hustle-bustle of everyday life (including parish life) so that ideas and convictions and insights (to say nothing of the sense of the divine) can break through our sensory-saturated lives.
Being able to do this is a remarkable privilege. Most people work at jobs where that which sort of looks like “wasting time” can be cause for probation, or firing – not an intrinsic part of the job. If clergy, however, are folk to whom our communities look for a sense of the Holy….then we must ourselves ensure that we put OURSELVES in places where the Holy can be encountered.
Thank you for this privilege. I’m grateful for it and do not take it for granted. If you, my reader, are a pastor I hope you ALSO appreciate the privilege that is yours to allow God to arrest you (sometimes being arrested is a GOOD thing!!) so that you can in turn buy aciphex from canada communicate that possibility to those in your care.
Now…a potpourri of miscellaneous encouragements:
- The United Church of Christ is seeking a new General Minister and President (GMP). These are challenging times to serve in the wider church. Our denomination needs a person with remarkable wisdom, faith, and skill to lead us into the next chapters of our common life. Do you know someone who should consider this call? If yes, call them TODAY and challenge them to pray…and to apply. Watch this video for more info: http://youtu.be/f14gvrCAybs
- While here in Schuyler, I finished reading “Hot Dogs & Hamburgers.” It’s a book about literacy….perhaps more it’s a book about parental love. Folk around the UCC are reading this book together as introduction to a church-wide commitment to literacy education. You should read it. I’m thinking I may have found one of the things I’ll want to be doing in retirement!
- Did you know that the US constitutes just 5% of the world’s population, but that we incarcerate 25% of all the world’s prisoners? Did you know that young African-American males are 14% of all young males in the US, but that they constitute 40% (!!) of the prison population? Several resolutions will be coming to General Synod this coming summer about the industry of mass incarceration and the “New Jim Crow.” Perhaps a group of interested and concerned persons from here in Iowa would like to help sponsor one of those resolutions. If so, you’ll need to act soon. Talk with me for more information.
- Finally…it’s fundraising time in the Iowa Conference. The bulk of our financial support comes from our churches (God bless them!!), but increasingly we are dependent on the generous support of individuals like yourself who believe that the work of supporting leadership development among our clergy is important…even essential work. Please consider making a generous gift for the support of this work.
With Great Hope!!
UCC in Iowa